Why Sheffield Wednesday’s best effort was just not good enough against Blackburn Rovers

Tony Pulis reiterated the need for Sheffield Wednesday to strengthen during the January transfer window after his players served up another uninspiring performance at Blackburn Rovers.

Out of nothing: Adam Reach, centre, fired home Sheffield Wednesday’s opening goal from 25 yards on Saturday but the nature of coming out of nothing summed up their attacking play. (Picture: Steve Ellis)

The Owls left Ewood Park with what their manager classed as a good point against the Championship’s second-most prolific team, and what they lacked in quality they made up for in discipline, organisation and grit.

Indeed, Pulis went on to praise his players for once again “giving him everything” on a freezing Boxing Day afternoon that was briefly lit up by Adam Reach’s 41st-minute stunner. The issue, however, is that this current group’s best is not likely to be enough to keep the club in the second tier.

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Saturday’s display did not just re-affirm this notion, it highlighted it in bold and then underlined it.

Sheffield Wednesday's Moses Odubajo on a forecful run (Picture: Steve Ellis)

It is clear to everyone who has seen them play in recent months that 23rd-placed Wednesday need reinforcements. It is now the Welshman’s job to bang the drum loud enough to ensure that his chairman, Dejphon Chansiri, gets the message.

“As I’ve said before, they’re a good group, but without doubt it needs to be improved,” said Pulis.

“There has to be players that we bring in during the window and they have to be the right players.

“They can’t just be players who are going to add to the squad, they’ve got to actually improve the squad and that’s what I’ll be talking to the chairman about. It’s very, very important.

Sheffield Wednesday's Josh Windass fires in a second half shot (Picture: Steve Ellis)

“I’ve only had the one victory and four draws, but every game we’ve played – apart from maybe two that I’ve been disappointed with – the lads have given everything.

“Ever since I’ve come in, the players have given everything that they’ve got, they have worked very hard against a good Blackburn team today and overall you’re pleased to take a point.”

Wednesday’s cause has not been helped by the amount of injuries to key personnel that they have been forced to deal with, and Saturday’s point came at a cost.

“We’ve got injuries again today,” added Pulis.

“Van Aken and Reachy. Van Aken hurt his groin in training on Thursday and I didn’t think he was going to be fit, but he looked fine today up until the last couple of minutes before we brought him off.

“Adam’s done his hamstring so we’ll have to see what happens there, but [Dominic] Iorfa has been out and you have Julian [Borner] out as well, two who are most probably starters in your back-four. It’s been difficult at times.

“Massimo [Luongo] is struggling. I think he’s gonna be a little bit longer as well. So yeah, we’ve got a few.

“I know most of the clubs at this level and a little bit lower who have been pummelled with match after match after match have got the same issues, so you’ve just got to get on with it.”

As bad as Wednesday were in possession for a large chunk of their showdown with Blackburn, the game’s stand-out moment of quality was produced by a visiting player.

When the Rovers defence made a mess of dealing with Barry Bannan’s hopeful up and under shortly before half-time, Reach came inside off the right wing and capitalised in style, placing a delicious 25-yard effort beyond Thomas Kaminski and into the top corner.

Thrilled though he was by that wonder strike, Pulis did however reveal that he thinks the 27-year-old should have added a second after the break and settled the contest at 2-0.

“Reachy has been a top player for me since I came to the football club. I’ve been really pleased with his attitude and his commitment to the team and he’s got a wand of a left foot,” he added.

“It’s a great finish, but he’s disappointed that he didn’t score that second chance, inside the box. He’s tried to cut the ball past the keeper instead of doing what he did in the first half and bend it around him.

“He had a great angle to do it. I’ve spoken to him and he didn’t realise how much time he had.

“You’d have taken a point before the game, but we’ve had chances to make it 2-0 and then that finishes the game.”

Wednesday were dreadful in possession during the first half, and Reach’s 58th-minute opportunity to double the lead was arguably their clearest of the game, though lone striker Josh Windass also failed to capitalise on a trio of decent shooting opportunities before Rovers drew level.

Adam Armstrong had already hit a post when Joe Rothwell waltzed into the away box on 76 minutes and slotted past Keiren Westwood, sparking a late Blacburn surge that the Owls only just managed to withstand.

Blackburn Rovers: Kaminski; Nyambe, Lenihan, Ayala, Douglas; Johnson (Downing 61), Holtby (Dack 61), Rothwell; Elliott, Gallagher (Brereton 61), Armstrong. Unused substitutes: Pears, Chapman, Bell, Davenport, Buckley, Dolan.

Sheffield Wednesday: Westwood; Palmer, Lees, Dunkley, Van Aken (Shaw 69), Odubajo; Reach (Harris 82), Pelupessy, Paterson, Bannan; Windass (Brown 87).Unuses substitutes: Wildsmith, Penney, Dele-Bashiru, Rhodes, Hunt, Kachunga.

Referee: T Harrington (Cleveland).

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